The Wobblies were and are legends of the union movement. In the early 1900’s. they unionized mining towns, lumber camps, and factories, sometimes when no one else could or dared, even if if meant pitched battles with goons hired by the bosses.
They emphasized rank-and-file organization, as opposed to empowering leaders who would bargain with employers on behalf of workers. They were one of the few unions to welcome all workers including women, foreigners, black workers and immigrants (like Mexican miners and Asian workers). Indeed, many of its early members were first- and second-generation immigrants.
The IWW lumber strike of 1917 led to the eight-hour day and vastly improved working conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Even though mid-century historians would give credit to the US Government and “forward thinking lumber magnates” for agreeing to such reforms, an IWW strike forced these concessions.
I’m glad they’re back. Another group is back too, SDS has reformed and is increasingly active.
[tags] Wobblies, SDS, Starbucks [/tags]